Locating the Audience (Book)

How People Found Value in National Theatre Wales

How do audiences experience live performances? What is gained when a national theater is born? These questions and more are the subject of Locating the Audience—the first in-depth study of how people form relationships with a new theater company. Investigating the inaugural season of National Theatre Wales, Kirsty Sedgman explores how different people felt about the way their communities were engaged and their places "performed" by the theater's productions. Mapping the complex interplay between audience experience and identity, the book presents a significant contribution to our contemporary project of defining cultural value. Rather than understanding value as an end point—"impact"—Sedgman makes the provocative claim that cultural value can better be understood as a process. By talking to audiences and capturing pleasures and disappointments, Locating the Audience shows the meaning-making process in action.

Category: Performing Arts

Edition

How do audiences experience live performances? What is gained when a national theatre is born? These questions and more are the subject of Locating the Audience, the first in-depth study of how people form relationships with a new theatre company. Investigating the inaugural season of National Theatre Wales, Kirsty Sedgman explores how different people felt about the way their communities were 'engaged' and their places 'performed' by the theatre’s productions. Mapping the complex interplay between audience experience and identity, the book presents a significant contribution to our contemporary project of defining cultural value. Rather than understanding value as an end point, 'impact', Sedgman makes the provocative claim that cultural value can better be understood as a process.

Kirsty Sedgman is a researcher and founder of the Performing Audience Research Network.

Chapter 1
Why (and How to) Study Theatre Audiences?
 
Chapter 2
Dancing into a Minefield: The Launch of National Theatre Wales
 
Chapter 3
‘Local’ Theatre for ‘Local’ People: Framing Audience Response
 
Chapter 4
For Mountain, Sand & Sea
 
Chapter 5
The Persians
 
Chapter 6
‘Do You Think the Audience Will Get It?’

'Kirsty Sedgman gives an example of how her findings were used by NTW…This isn’t pandering; it is about helping people feel a theatre is for them, a sense of ownership that is particularly crucial for a new national theatre project.'

Holly Williams, The Times Literary Supplement

'Sedgman’s first monograph is an exceptionally valuable piece of work. It represents a major contribution to our understanding of how audiences for contemporary theatre and performance evaluate the work they experience through detailed and insightful analysis of audience responses to two productions from National Theatre Wales’ first season: For Mountain, Sea & Sand (June/July 2010) and The Persians (August 2010).'

Helen Freshwater, Participations

'The thrust of her argument is that ‘different kinds of knowledge can be produced by accessing actual audience talk’ (10 [original emphasis]). Perhaps the most exciting part of the book, consequently, is the empirical data it presents and the analysis of records of responses gathered through interviews at From Mountain, Sand & Sea (directed by Marc Rees in Barmouth, Wales) and Te Persians (directed by Mike Pearson in the Brecon Beacon Mountains, Wales). More than bounded by the located nature of the performances studied and their Welsh geography, Locating the Audience seeks to open up wider questions about perceptions of participation, of place in performance and of who gets to speak of cultural value, on what terms, and with what authority or confidence.'

Evelyn O'Malley, Studies in Theatre and Performance
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